Reported by Chrish
“We watch FOX so you don’t have to.”
August 7, 2006 – 48 comments
Ever since Scripps Howard released poll findings last week that 36% of Americans believe it is at least somewhat likely that the federal government was involved in or took no action to prevent the attacks of September 11th, FOX news talking heads have been ridiculing and dismissing the possibility. On the other hand, they have yet to cause such a kerfuffle over the equally remarkable poll finding that the number of Americans who believe WMDs were found in Iraq has risen to 50%. We don’t need to ask why the double standard.
John Gibson jumped on it right away. His August 3 “My Word” rant dismissed alternative theories as garbage and attributed them to (what else?) hatred of Bush. He’s a one-trick pony, John is – if you disagree, or question, or suspect the administration, it’s all because of your emotional reactions to Bush.
“The truth is: People don’t believe the 9/11 story because they hate George Bush and don’t believe anything he says. … So now we have one-third of the American people as blinded by hate as many Europeans and many Canadians and many Arabs.”
On Saturday, August 5, Heartland host John Kasich was equally emotional in his defense of the government and his outrage at guest James Fetzer, who is one of the leading proponents of the conspiracy theories and head of 9-11 Scholars for Truth. (I must say, at least he was allowed on this show, although he was attacked by Kasich and other guest Wayne Simmons.) Kasich voiced his concerns that Fetzer was being allowed to present his findings in a university classroom, saying “I believe in academic freedom but this crosses the line.” The line is, of course, determined by right-wing conservatives who don’t really believe in free speech or a free and independent press.
The torch was passed to Bill O’Reilly, who tonight 8/7/06 on The Factor had James B. Meig, Editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics, as his lone guest on the topic. Mr Meig’s sole qualification to comment on the topic appears to be his position at the magazine which published an article in March 2005 challenging the emerging conspiracy theories, which article has now been greatly expanded into a book, Debunking 9/11 Myths. (The title appears to be a direct reply to an earlier book, Debunking 9/11, which documents its findings of government involvement.) It was clearly mentioned that this book is based on science, something not always of importance to FOX viewers.\
O’Reilly dragged Michael Moore into it, cuing the viewers that this is far, far left stuff (36%!) but immediately backed off, acknowledging that MM didn’t say this but it’s that level of paranoia, that the government is so evil it wants the “war on terror.” He used other disparaging phrases throughout: “nutty college professors” and “nutty conspiracy garbage,” “nonsense”,
O’Reilly invited Meig to go over each “myth” one by one. Meig obliged and spoke authoritatively on matters of physics and engineering, claiming the engineering community is unanimous in its conclusions. He also put forth the explanation that the wings of the plane that hit the Pentagon “flowed into the structure more like a liquid than a solid.” O’Reilly summed up that scientists were not stunned by anything; A led to B led to C, there was nothing miraculous. O’Reilly again displayed a recurring arrogance, that if he doesn’t know something (or in this case see something) than it didn’t happen. This time he said that he was in NY, watching it on television, and he didn’t see any missile – how does anyone believe this stuff?
O’Reilly reiterated that there’s nothing political about the magazine or the book, that it’s all about the science, and Meigs agreed that they just want people to have the core facts, and let people make of it what they may.
O’Reilly brought up University of Wisconsin professor Kevin Barrett, who is teaching a class on the conspiracy theories this fall, and asked if Meigs would want his kid taking that class. Meigs didn’t answer that, instead saying Barrett is entitled to his opinions but he’s got his facts wrong. This is another attempt, like Kasich’s, to stop the mere mention or discussion of ideas that are counter to the approved far-right agenda.
Comment: The fact that 36% of Americans are so skeptical of this governement that they can even entertain the possibility that the Bush administration was somehow complicit in the horrible events of that day speaks volumes about the mistrust their secrecy has caused. People are not satisfied with the explanations and excuses flowing from the White House and are obviously open to the possibility that the vast right wing conspiracy lives.
AMEND 8/8/06: Clarification – I used O’Reilly’s characterization of Barrett’s upcoming class. In reality, “He is scheduled to teach an introductory class on Islam, in which he plans to spend one week of the 16-week class teaching various different theories about the attacks and the War on Terrorism.” Thanks to NH Ellen for the nudge.
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